Last week, in Energy Committee we heard and passed Jeremy Kalan's Energy Conservation and Efficiency Bill. It received a fair amount of discussion but because of his hard work with all the stake holders did move forward.
This week, we begin hearing Maria Ruud's Global Warming Bill, which addresses the reduction of greenhouse gases. It will most likely be a contentious discussion, though I believe we have the votes to pass it out of committee. I am told we will hear a good three hours of testimony in addition the hour and half we heard Monday.
Wednesday, I will introduce HF 1645 a Utility Affordability Program, which accomplishes two things:
Requires PUC to consider affordability of energy when setting rates
Requires investor-owned gas companies (and permits investor-owned electric companies) to establish “affordability programs.”
This bill applies to low-income customers (i.e., those receiving energy assistance) requiring customers to make the maximum payment customer can afford given the customer’s financial circumstances and the utility to makes up the shortfall between customer payments, energy assistance and full bill.
The major benefits of affordability programs are the maximizing of revenues to utilities (customers pay regularly and on time); mitigates arrears and bad debt by breaking disconnect/reconnect cycle; lowers or eliminates utility collection costs; and keeps customers connected to the system, preserving energy stability for families.